Having managed to put back-to-back wins together in the Premier League and move up into eighth position, this weekend LFC will turn their attentions to the FA Cup and a trip to Mansfield Town. The Stags are currently ninth in the Conference Premier table, and that places the Stags a full 93 places below us—a true David-and-Goliath encounter for the season. LFC will be hoping to avoid a shock that would surely surpass our 1959 1-2 exit at the hands of Southern League outfit Worcester City at the same stage of the competition.
The teams have met twice before – after a League Cup second-round clash ended goalless in September 1970, the Reds prevailed 3-2 at Anfield in the replay. The match is subject to the pitch being given the all clear. The Stags’ encounter with Grimsby had to be postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and with more rain forecast for the weekend, there are some doubts that the match will be given the go ahead.
The winners of this tie will earn £67,500 in prize money…not even enough to pay Joe Cole’s weekly salary!
Liverpool have been somewhat inconsistent over the first half of the league campaign but have put together a much stronger run recently—six wins from the past eight matches gives hope for the future. The Reds have scored 34 goals in their 21 league games so far, averaging 1.6 goals per game overall, but the last seven weeks have seen a big improvement in this regard. Since the start of December the Reds have averaged 2.3 goals per game in the league, including scoring three or more in four of their last six matches.
Mansfield have relied on their home form to keep them reasonably high up the league table; only three teams in the division have taken more points than The Stags at home. Despite sitting in ninth, Mansfield concede a lot of goals—an average of 1.5 per game. They will have to hope to improve in this area on the day to have a chance against the Reds.
FA CUP HISTORY
Liverpool have lifted the FA Cup on seven occasions, with the last victory coming in 2006 when we defeated West Ham Utd. Our other triumphs in the FA Cup came in 2001 (against Arsenal), 1992 (Sunderland), 1989 (Everton), 1986 (Everton), 1974 (Newcastle) and 1965 (Leeds Utd). Only three sides have lifted the FA Cup on more occasions than Liverpool: Man Utd with 11 victories, Arsenal with ten and Spurs with eight.
The Reds have also been runners up on seven occasions, losing to Burnley in 1914, Arsenal in 1950, Arsenal again in 1971, Manchester Utd in 1977, Wimbledon in 1988, Manchester Utd in 1996 and Chelsea in 2012. Only Everton with eight losing final appearances have lost more FA Cup finals than Liverpool.
Liverpool’s overall record in the FA Cup:
P: 411 W: 219 D: 89 L: 103 F: 688 A: 390
Goalkeepers: Reina 23, Jones, Gulacsi
Defenders: Johnson 24, Wisdom, Flanagan, Skrtel 26, Agger 23, Coates, Carragher 20, Robinson
Midfielders: Lucas, Sahin, Gerrard 28 (c), Allen 26, Henderson 23, Downing 24, Sterling 29, Shelvey 25, Suso
Strikers: Suarez 27, Sturridge Yesil
One way or another, this will not be a full strength team. King Kenny wouldn’t have saved his job if he had won the FA Cup, so it is clear that this competition is not a priority. As we have played so many games this season, there will be an opportunity to give players a rest. The numbers in brackets after the names, are the number of games played already this year. This will be a factor in deciding who needs a rest for the game. And even though this is a potential banana skin, our second team should be able to beat a team of semi professional players.
Injured: Enrique, Kelly and Borini.
It is rumoured that Coates is going on loan, which is good news, as he is not getting any game time under BR. I don’t know if that will stop him playing in this game, but if not, then he should play. Gerrard will be rested, and Carra will be captain for the day. Suarez is probably going to play as BR believes he needs to be playing continually to keep his form. I thought Sturrdige would start, but he is rumoured to be on the bench. I don’t know if this is due to his hamstring injury and the heavy pitch, or if BR wants to give him more time to gel with the team before getting his full debut. If Sturridge is benched, then Shelvey will likely be asked to play as the false 10 in support of Suarez. If Sturridge starts, then I think Sturridge will play the number 9 role and Suarez the floating 10, the same role he performed at Ajax and for Uruguay, using his ability to cause chaos to create chances for Sturridge to convert.
PREDICTED LINE UP